Jennifer and I have been using Starlink for several months now in our RV. In some cases, it's great! In others… not so much.
So, we're going to answer the above questions and more by comparing Starlink RV vs. Residential Portability.
Note, I have another recent article on my 5 Big Disappointments with Starlink. I'll also share those disappointments at the end of this article. For this article, I'm going to focus on the two Starlink internet options for RVers.
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The biggest perk about Starlink is also one of its biggest inconveniences: you can take it with you. The perk is obvious for RVers traveling around.
How is that an inconvenience? Well, you have to put the satellite dish up and take it down every time you drive your RV somewhere new.
Thankfully, the satellite dish (which SpaceX calls “dishy”) is quite small and lightweight. So, carrying it isn't a major inconvenience. However, getting it mounted high enough to get reliable service can be.
That's why you need a good install to safely and easily mount your Starlink RV dish to your RV's roof. Or, better yet, higher than your roof on a telescoping pole.
As an RVer, you have two Starlink service options to choose from. The first is Starlink RV and the second is Starlink Residential + Portability.
Warning: Starlink is evolving incredibly fast. There's been big update, price hikes, and more within the past couple of weeks. So, be sure to double-check the Starlink website for the most up-to-date information.
The Cost (as of this writing)
Comparing the Starlink for RV cost to Residential Portability is easy. They are the same price. The monthly cost of Starlink RV is $135. Residential + Portability is $110 + $25, bringing it to $135.
The one-time hardware cost is also the same. Brace yourself, though, because it's $599.
The Starlink FAQ page does a great job outlining the differences between Starlink for RVs and Residential Starlink + Portability. I'm sharing their bullet points here and in the next section.
- Pause Service: Provides the ability to pause and un-pause service, allowing users to customize their service to their individual travel needs.
- No Waitlist: At this time, there is no waitlist – all orders will be shipped shortly after the order is placed. Supply is subject to network and equipment availability.
- Best Effort Service: Network resources are always de-prioritized for Starlink for RVs users compared to other Starlink services, resulting in degraded service and slower speeds in congested areas and during peak hours. Stated speeds and uninterrupted use of the service are not guaranteed. Service degradation will be most extreme in “Waitlist” areas on the Starlink Availability Map during peak hours.
- I want to travel with my RV.
- I want to go on a weekend camping trip.
- I have another home that I use for one season a year.
- Prioritized Service Address: Starlink prioritizes network resources for users at their registered Service Address. The Service Address on your account will receive priority whether Portability is enabled or not. When you bring your Starlink to a new location with Portability, this prioritization may result in degraded service, particularly at times of peak usage or network congestion. Service degradation will be most extreme in “Waitlist” areas on the Starlink Availability Map during peak hours.
- Multi-Purpose Internet: Starlink with Portability allows you to use the same Starlink for both your home internet and when you travel.
Example Use Case:
- I want Starlink at my home and travel with Starlink a few months a year.
Let me sum up what Starlink outlines in the above bullet lists. There are key advantages to each type of internet service.
There are two big perks of Starlink RV over Portability. The first being that there is currently no waitlist for Starlink RV!
That's a BIG deal right now. You could be waiting a long time to get Residential service in order to add portability to it.
The second perk is that you can pause Starlink RV. This is a big perk if you already have (more affordable) internet at your permanent residence. When you're home, you can pause service and not pay for Starlink.
Starlink Residential Portability has one big advantage over Starlink for RV: prioritized service address.
When you're at home (aka your “service address”), you get prioritized service. This means you do not get degraded service as you do when you're using portability or Starlink RV.
You'll get great, reliable internet with fast internet speeds whenever you're at your service address. That's perfect for anyone who wants to use Starlink both at home and while they travel.
Now, some of you savvy RVers may have already asked the question, “Can I change my service address as I travel in my RV?” This is especially a great question for snowbirds.
The answer is yes, you can change your service address. However, Starlink must be available in that new location and even if it is, there could be a long waitlist.
But, if you're going to spend all winter in Florida, for instance, it could be worth changing your service address from Missouri if you can. That way you get prioritized service while you're there.
Prioritized service is what you want.
That comes by operating in your home areas.
The speeds you'll get with the RV or portability options are way slower than prioritized home service. I've found that cellular Internet is usually better.
SpaceX is launching more satellites into low earth orbit every month. So, satellite coverage is quickly expanding.
You can check to see if your service address or travel destination is available on the interactive map on Starlink's site.
It's important to note that this map shows where SpaceX's Starlink is available to order. NOT where you can get satellite coverage.
However, RVers have reported (and Starlink says it in their FAQ) that there is a correlation between where Starlink is available and where they get good coverage. So, you can use this map to estimate how much internet access your Starlink dish will provide in different destinations.
When it comes to actual coverage, I will tell you from my own experience that Starlink Dishy does not like trees! The more open a space (wherever you are in the country, especially the West), the more reliable internet service you'll have.
Starlink is very promising, but it hasn't reached its full potential… yet.
Right now, we still rely on our cellular service for the most reliable internet service. But Starlink is an excellent backup to cellular networks, especially in remote locations where cellular connectivity is impossible.
But, as I mentioned, they're expanding and improving at lightning speed. So, we're sticking with Starlink (in conjunction with cell coverage) despite our disappointments with Starlink thus far.
After being Starlink users for several months, I wrote an article on the biggest disappointments with Starlink. I recommend reading that article to help you decide to become a Starlink customer or not.
- Starlink download speeds are not consistently fast. In fact, Starlink speeds have decreased as much as 54% over the past year, according to a recent study by the network research firm Ookla.
- Starlink upload speeds are abysmal. They, too, have been dropping as more users join the service.
- Starlink Dishy doesn't like trees
Once you get your Internet figured out, where to next?
Mike and Jennifer's Favorite Places in Florida – all 3 ebooks!
We RVers may wander far and wide but it’s true for most of us that we end up with some favorite “Go-To” places – places that draw us back again and again.
Florida is one of those places for us. And we know it is for many RVers looking to get away and explore during the winter.
That's why we've created three guides, covering Florida's Atlantic Coast, the Gulf Coast, and the Keys.
Each of these guides is a seven-day guided exploration of one of the coasts. And each stop is a curated view of the best things that we’ve enjoyed on this trip and want you to experience.
Altogether these guides are over 300 pages of content!
FAQ's about Florida Gulf Coast beaches of interest to RVers
What is the weather like along Florida's Gulf Coast?
The weather along Florida's Gulf Coast can vary depending on the time of year and the specific location. In general, the area experiences hot, humid summers and mild, pleasant winters.
The Panhandle region can be quite cool in January. It is seldom below freezing, but daytime highs are typically in the 50s. It warms up about 10 degrees each month.
You can also generally add about 10 degrees for every 150 miles you travel south down the Florida peninsula.
By the time you hit Naples, daytime highs in January are in the comfortable 70s.
Are there any websites that can help me get a reservation for a Florida beach campground?
One of the best resources we can recommend is called Campnab. This service monitors parks for cancelations and sends you an alert when an opening matches your criteria. That said, it isn’t magic. The app doesn’t create availabilities.
The service works – but it is not free.
Campnab offers two ways to use the service. The first is individual pay-per-use scans. These watch for vacancies at a specific park for a specific date. These work well if you know exactly when and where you intend to camp. Pay-per-use scans cost $10 – $20, depending on how frequently you want them to check availability.
The second way to use the service is through a membership. These typically run monthly and are tailored to those who camp more frequently or are looking to maximize their chance of finding a site. Membership allows you to scan multiple parks and/or dates simultaneously. With memberships, you pay a monthly recurring fee ($10, $20, $30, or $50), depending on your needs.
Are there places in Florida where you can literally camp on the beach for free?
Not many. And they are very pricey. If you want to sleep directly on the sand in an RV, you'll have to stay at a developed commercial campground like Camp Gulf on the Emerald Coast or an RV resort like Big Pine Key Resort in the keys. Some state parks like the Gamble Rogers State Memorial Recreation Area in the Atlantic Coast or Bahia Honda State Park in the keys or Fort Desto State Park near St. Petersburg have beachside sites, too.
But are there free, unrestricted RV beach camping spots in Florida?
Sorry, none that I know of that would work for RVs.
There is unrestricted camping on wild beaches on a couple of islands, but you need a boat to get there, and it is for tent camping only. If you want to sleep directly on the sand, there is Anclote Key offshore Tarpon Springs, and Shell Key in Pinellas County. Another favorite is Keewaydin Island between Naples and Marco Island but that area remains pretty devasted from Hurricane Ian.
Did Hurricane Ian destroy many beach campgrounds on the Gulf Coast?
While it severely damaged almost two dozen RV parks and campgrounds, about 8-10 campgrounds in the Naples-Ft. Myers area were completely destroyed. Most of the damaged campgrounds have been repaired and reopened.
Check with the Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds if you have questions or concerns.